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From Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edmund Morris comes a revelatory new biography of Thomas Alva Edison, the most prolific genius in American history. Although Thomas Alva Edison was the most famous American of his time, and remains an international name today, he is mostly remembered only for the gift of universal electric light. His invention of the first practical incan From Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edmund Morris comes a revelatory new biography of Thomas Alva Edison, the most prolific genius in American history. Although Thomas Alva Edison was the most famous American of his time, and remains an international name today, he is mostly remembered only for the gift of universal electric light. His invention of the first practical incandescent lamp 140 years ago so dazzled the world--already reeling from his invention of the phonograph and dozens of other revolutionary devices--that it cast a shadow over his later achievements. In all, this near-deaf genius ("I haven't heard a bird sing since I was twelve years old") patented 1,093 inventions, not including others, such as the X-ray fluoroscope, that he left unlicensed for the benefit of medicine. One of the achievements of this staggering new biography, the first major life of Edison in more than twenty years, is that it portrays the unknown Edison--the philosopher, the futurist, the chemist, the botanist, the wartime defense adviser, the founder of nearly 250 companies--as fully as it deconstructs the Edison of mythological memory. Edmund Morris, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, brings to the task all the interpretive acuity and literary elegance that distinguished his previous biographies of Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and Ludwig van Beethoven. A trained musician, Morris is especially well equipped to recount Edison's fifty-year obsession with recording technology and his pioneering advances in the synchronization of movies and sound. Morris sweeps aside conspiratorial theories positing an enmity between Edison and Nikola Tesla and presents proof of their mutually admiring, if wary, relationship. Enlightened by seven years of research among the five million pages of original documents preserved in Edison's huge laboratory at West Orange, New Jersey, and privileged access to family papers still held in trust, Morris is also able to bring his subject to life on the page--the adored yet autocratic and often neglectful husband of two wives and father of six children. If the great man who emerges from it is less a sentimental hero than an overwhelming force of nature, driven onward by compulsive creativity, then Edison is at last getting his biographical due.


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From Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edmund Morris comes a revelatory new biography of Thomas Alva Edison, the most prolific genius in American history. Although Thomas Alva Edison was the most famous American of his time, and remains an international name today, he is mostly remembered only for the gift of universal electric light. His invention of the first practical incan From Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edmund Morris comes a revelatory new biography of Thomas Alva Edison, the most prolific genius in American history. Although Thomas Alva Edison was the most famous American of his time, and remains an international name today, he is mostly remembered only for the gift of universal electric light. His invention of the first practical incandescent lamp 140 years ago so dazzled the world--already reeling from his invention of the phonograph and dozens of other revolutionary devices--that it cast a shadow over his later achievements. In all, this near-deaf genius ("I haven't heard a bird sing since I was twelve years old") patented 1,093 inventions, not including others, such as the X-ray fluoroscope, that he left unlicensed for the benefit of medicine. One of the achievements of this staggering new biography, the first major life of Edison in more than twenty years, is that it portrays the unknown Edison--the philosopher, the futurist, the chemist, the botanist, the wartime defense adviser, the founder of nearly 250 companies--as fully as it deconstructs the Edison of mythological memory. Edmund Morris, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, brings to the task all the interpretive acuity and literary elegance that distinguished his previous biographies of Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and Ludwig van Beethoven. A trained musician, Morris is especially well equipped to recount Edison's fifty-year obsession with recording technology and his pioneering advances in the synchronization of movies and sound. Morris sweeps aside conspiratorial theories positing an enmity between Edison and Nikola Tesla and presents proof of their mutually admiring, if wary, relationship. Enlightened by seven years of research among the five million pages of original documents preserved in Edison's huge laboratory at West Orange, New Jersey, and privileged access to family papers still held in trust, Morris is also able to bring his subject to life on the page--the adored yet autocratic and often neglectful husband of two wives and father of six children. If the great man who emerges from it is less a sentimental hero than an overwhelming force of nature, driven onward by compulsive creativity, then Edison is at last getting his biographical due.

30 review for Edison

  1. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    I do not agree with the decision to present Edison’s life in reverse chronology. Maybe I’ll try another biography some day.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Romero

    Edmund Morris is the author of the three Theodore Roosevelt biographies as well as the really good Ronald Reagan one. I am very sad to say he passed away just this past May. Thomas Edison was a driven man. He was constantly inventing and patenting new ideas or as he would say, he brought them out in the open, they were always there. He had a new invention about every 11 days, with over 1,000 in his lifetime. Best known for bringing us into the light, he was a man with a sin Edmund Morris is the author of the three Theodore Roosevelt biographies as well as the really good Ronald Reagan one. I am very sad to say he passed away just this past May. Thomas Edison was a driven man. He was constantly inventing and patenting new ideas or as he would say, he brought them out in the open, they were always there. He had a new invention about every 11 days, with over 1,000 in his lifetime. Best known for bringing us into the light, he was a man with a singular need to invent, to experiment, to push the boundaries of what was known. He was a man who needed little sleep or food and expected those around him to work the same punishing hours as he did.  He did not suffer fools lightly and like a lot of geniuses who are laser-focused on what they see as their calling, his family life suffered. We see the husband, the father, the friend. A man who was headstrong. He started 250 businesses, so you can imagine he might have been a distant father. He made no secret that he thought his children were lacking in every way.  I have read many biographies of Edison, most of which centered on his works and patents. I don't think he was a deliberately cold man, he was a man possessed with a need to create, to push boundaries and with that type of mind, relationships and family take a back seat. The research that went into this work is astounding. This is a book I will have and re-read for a long time.  NetGalley/Random House (October 22, 2019)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lynndell

    More than just an inventor! Thanks to Amazon Vine, NetGally and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Edison by Edmund Morris. This eight hundred page book is an interesting read and engaged me easily with the history of Thomas Alva Edison. This fascinating man was so much more than just an inventor and the author conducted extensive research to bring Edison to life for us! I just wish the book had an index for research accessibility because this is the main re More than just an inventor! Thanks to Amazon Vine, NetGally and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Edison by Edmund Morris. This eight hundred page book is an interesting read and engaged me easily with the history of Thomas Alva Edison. This fascinating man was so much more than just an inventor and the author conducted extensive research to bring Edison to life for us! I just wish the book had an index for research accessibility because this is the main reason for wanting this biography of Thomas Alva Edison, using it for research that our library students have to conduct to complete their annual research paper. All-in-all, a great read because the author has taken the facts about Edison and made them appealing and compelling!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Camille Calman

    I received free uncorrected proofs of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I had previously read and enjoyed one of Edmund Morris’s books on Theodore Roosevelt, so I was confident that I would enjoy this book (Morris’s last – he died in May 2019). I was correct; the book is well-researched, written in a lively, readable style, and does a reasonably good job of explaining scientific concepts to lay people. I was really impressed by the author’s ability to convey how much of Edison’s success (w I received free uncorrected proofs of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I had previously read and enjoyed one of Edmund Morris’s books on Theodore Roosevelt, so I was confident that I would enjoy this book (Morris’s last – he died in May 2019). I was correct; the book is well-researched, written in a lively, readable style, and does a reasonably good job of explaining scientific concepts to lay people. I was really impressed by the author’s ability to convey how much of Edison’s success (which is what we remember today) rested on extensive trial and error, learning from multiple failures, and obsessive workaholism. My one complaint about the book is that for some reason, Morris has elected to tell the story backwards. We begin with Edison’s death, then travel successively through the 1920s, 1910s, etc., back to his birth in 1847. Within each decade, we move forward in time, but at the end of the 1920s, we suddenly go from 1929 to the next chapter, which begins 19 years earlier in 1910. The effect is choppy. Edison, and the author, are constantly having to remember and refer to events that, for the reader, haven’t happened yet. Friendships or business relationships end in one chapter and begin in the next. Edison is married to one woman in 1899, and then – a page later – it’s 1880 and he’s married to a different woman. I’m not sure what possessed Morris to structure the book this way; perhaps he did so because the most interesting inventions happen when Edison is fairly young, and in a strictly chronological book, that would have happened early and the rest of the book might have seemed anti-climactic. But it comes off as gimmicky and not very reader-friendly.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rich Gatlin

    Edmund Morris has an uncanny ability to put you in the world he's writing about. I'm a huge fan of his Roosevelt biography, so I was very excited to receive this book from Goodreads as an advance copy ahead of publication. It did not disappoint. The format is unique, it is written from the end of his life to the beginning in reverse order. At first I was unsure but it turned out to be one of the best parts of the book. Normally I dread reading the first part of any biography as it's a slog throu Edmund Morris has an uncanny ability to put you in the world he's writing about. I'm a huge fan of his Roosevelt biography, so I was very excited to receive this book from Goodreads as an advance copy ahead of publication. It did not disappoint. The format is unique, it is written from the end of his life to the beginning in reverse order. At first I was unsure but it turned out to be one of the best parts of the book. Normally I dread reading the first part of any biography as it's a slog through the childhood sections to get to the part you really want to read. This method got directly to the most interesting part of this incredible man's life. Edison is a fascinating biography due to the subject matter, but Mr. Morris' skill takes this book to a different level. Highly recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Craig Pearson

    Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. This is a very detailed look at the life and foibles of Thomas Edison. Most people know only general facts of Ediso's genius, such as the light bulb and motion pictures. They do not know about his failures and family life. Edison was very complicated and most, even his family, did not understand him fully. This book has many technical details about his inventions and patents but they are presented by Morris in a very readab Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. This is a very detailed look at the life and foibles of Thomas Edison. Most people know only general facts of Ediso's genius, such as the light bulb and motion pictures. They do not know about his failures and family life. Edison was very complicated and most, even his family, did not understand him fully. This book has many technical details about his inventions and patents but they are presented by Morris in a very readable way. The biggest problem with the book is the odd timeline used. Edison's life is given in reverse chronologic order. That may work in a fictional story but not in a biography. Knowing how events unfold before they begin is just wrong.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Annette Geiss

    A comprehensive tome on Thomas Alva Edison. Admittedly, I skimmed much of it, as it is so filled with exhaustive accounts of him and his life. I learned copious details about this rare genius of a man. Kudos to Edmund Morris for his extensive research. Thanks you Netgalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen Troutman

    I received this book as an electronic resource from Net Galley Noted: I am not a great history buff. For the true follower of Edison this would be great book. I however, found it exhaustive and skimmed some of the details. Not one of my favorite books but it well researched and written.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anne Morgan

    Thomas Alva Edison, known today primarily as the inventor of the lightbulb, spent his life researching, experimenting, and inventing devices in nearly every scientific field available to him over the course of his life. Edmund Morris' new biography takes a thoroughly-researched, detailed look into these aspects of Edison's life, hoping to leave readers (perhaps) with the sense of Edison as a Renaissance Man who unceasingly explored the world around him. The reader learns of Edison's tireless eff Thomas Alva Edison, known today primarily as the inventor of the lightbulb, spent his life researching, experimenting, and inventing devices in nearly every scientific field available to him over the course of his life. Edmund Morris' new biography takes a thoroughly-researched, detailed look into these aspects of Edison's life, hoping to leave readers (perhaps) with the sense of Edison as a Renaissance Man who unceasingly explored the world around him. The reader learns of Edison's tireless efforts to perfect phonograph recordings (although deaf himself), his proficiency with Morse code, as well as the creation of inventions that, even after Morris described them, I had no idea what they were for or what they did. That is one of the issues I had with Edison. In his push to show the reader all of the work Edison did, Morris overwhelms the reader with scientific information in some places and underwhelms the reader in others. The main problem I had with Edison however, is that it is written backwards. Starting with his death in 1931, each part of the book covers about ten years of Edison's life, retreating backwards in time until he's born in 1847. This often made the reading choppy and the biography's progression difficult to follow. Partnerships, inventions, lawsuits, and personal relationships end before they begin and often Morris has to refer the reader to later parts in the book to cover the beginning of something he's now talking about ending. If there was a reason for writing the book that way, I couldn't tell what it was- except a desire to experiment and do something different. In this case different was certainly memorable, but not, for me, in a good way. Glimpses of Edison the man manage to show through Edison the scientist or Edison the businessman but those glimpses don't give the reader much of an impression of who he was or what made him the way he was. The impressions we do get show us a perfectionist, a tyrant, and a control freak. Meeting Edison like this at the end of his life, I have a hard time knowing if I didn't like this book because I didn't like Edison as a person, and had no investment in who he would become or what he would do with his life because I saw it from the end on, or if it was the book itself. Not a book I'd recommend for any but the most fervent of Edison admirers, and even then, I strongly recommend reading the book from end to beginning to try and make some sense out of it. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  10. 5 out of 5

    Casey Cep

    I reviewed this biography of Thomas Edison for "The New Yorker." You can read the review, which takes into account some other writing about him, here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dale

    The story of Thomas A. Edison’s life is recounted in an unusual manner in this biography. Told from the perspective of the man’s fascinations with different fields, electricity, sound, light, chemistry, and botany, it does not follow the normal life’s progression found in most biographies. I found this interesting and while each section was detailed I was not put off by the detail as each related to former or future endeavors of Edison. For instance, the book begins with Edison’s work in the fie The story of Thomas A. Edison’s life is recounted in an unusual manner in this biography. Told from the perspective of the man’s fascinations with different fields, electricity, sound, light, chemistry, and botany, it does not follow the normal life’s progression found in most biographies. I found this interesting and while each section was detailed I was not put off by the detail as each related to former or future endeavors of Edison. For instance, the book begins with Edison’s work in the field of botany at the behest of friends, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. Something I knew nothing about, but was not surprised to learn, Edison pursued finding latex in native plants with the same singularity of purpose that he is noted to have used in the pursuit of a viable filament for incandescent lamps. The arrangement made the book easier to read and perhaps provided a better understanding of what made the man than many biographies.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    Though it was in many ways an “unenlightened” era, the late 1800s to early 1900s --- when Jim Crow laws and anti-Semitism were still rife in American culture, and women would not obtain the right to vote until 1920 --- saw the creation of some of the modern world’s most needed systems and machinery, much of them the product of one man’s scientific genius. Pulitzer Prize winner Edmund Morris composed this lively, fact-laden biography of Thomas Alva Edison over the course of seven years.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Socraticgadfly

    Ye gads, NO!!! There was a creative new angle for Morris in penning the life of Edison (see end of review) but not the one he actually took. No, this just doesn’t work. I’ve read an occasional non-chronological, thematically organized biography. Where it’s not intended to be an introductory biography, and may be somewhat professionally targeted, such as Heiko Oberman’s Luther bio, it can work well. I have never read a reverse chronological biography, and now, I’l Ye gads, NO!!! There was a creative new angle for Morris in penning the life of Edison (see end of review) but not the one he actually took. No, this just doesn’t work. I’ve read an occasional non-chronological, thematically organized biography. Where it’s not intended to be an introductory biography, and may be somewhat professionally targeted, such as Heiko Oberman’s Luther bio, it can work well. I have never read a reverse chronological biography, and now, I’ll never try another. First, this is the same Edmund Morris who invented a fictional character for his Reagan bio and claimed it was because he couldn’t grasp Reagan. That would seem to be a lie, and that idea mainly just a literary conceit as is the reverse chronology here. Critics slammed Morris for that. Speaking of? You won’t see any blurbs — none at all — on the back cover here. Yes, I know he died earlier this year. Nonetheless, this isn’t a novel dependent on the author’s name, and even if there were some degree of rush, galley proofs would have been ready by May. So, either Random House quailed at sending it to Kirkus, NY Review of Books, etc., or else it did and they slammed it. That also doesn’t look good. As for the book itself, you could do as one other low-star reviewer suggests and read it in normal chronological order, ie, reverse chapter order. However, some placement-early chapters may refer forward, or is that backward, to late-placement, but earlier-chronology, chapters. Second problem, and one that an “artiste” biographer like Morris should never have stepped into, if he is indeed such an “artiste.” Lives don’t divide on precise decadal lines, and certainly not “one decade = one theme.” It looks like he tried to take a thematic approach, a la Oberman to Luther, and straitjacket it inside a chronological format. And that on top of doing the reverse chronology. The sad thing? I’d never before read much about Edison’s personal life, other than his hanging out with Ford and Firestone. I didn’t know he was married twice. Nor that his namesake eldest son from his first marriage was a wastrel. Nor that he, and to some degree all the children of the first marriage, were written off by not only Edison’s second wife, but Edison himself. It seems like there was potential for a HUGE biography of Edison the person first, inventor second. And Morris blew it. What I have learned about Edison the person is the only reason I didn’t one-star this book. Maybe somebody will come along and do the bio Morris could and should have done.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Excellent Atlantic review, which you should read if you have any interst in Edison: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/... Excerpt: Inside the two-story shed he built in Menlo Park in 1876, Edison oversaw a factory of invention, with a team of “muckers”—his term for professional experimenters—who fleshed out his sketches and made him the most famous inventor in the world. For example, Edison might never have conceived his signature light bulb without Ludwig Böhm, a Bavarian glassblower, or his right-hand man, Batchelor, who carbon Excellent Atlantic review, which you should read if you have any interst in Edison: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/... Excerpt: Inside the two-story shed he built in Menlo Park in 1876, Edison oversaw a factory of invention, with a team of “muckers”—his term for professional experimenters—who fleshed out his sketches and made him the most famous inventor in the world. For example, Edison might never have conceived his signature light bulb without Ludwig Böhm, a Bavarian glassblower, or his right-hand man, Batchelor, who carbonized the paper that glowed within the pear-shaped bulb. From the start, Menlo Park was both unique and controversial. . . . In the early 20th century, AT&T . . . in 1941 opened a state-of-the-art research facility in Murray Hill, just 10 miles north of Menlo Park—Bell Labs. That unit went on to patent the transistor, the laser, and the first solar-energy cell. From 1930 to 1965, DuPont’s Experimental Station, in Wilmington, Delaware, developed synthetic rubber, nylon, and Kevlar. The following decade, the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center helped design the modern personal computer. After Russia’s launch of the Sputnik rocket, the U.S. government got in on the act, establishing the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA, which in 1969 laid the technical foundation of the internet. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that almost every important technological invention in the 20th century emerged from just the sort of R&D lab that Edison created." And a quirk: "Now I have to tell you something about Morris’s biography: It goes backwards. Thomas Edison dies in the prologue, and toward the end, a young boy called Alva reads a book about electricity and is inspired. Each chapter traces a full decade (Chapter 1 begins in 1920 and ends in 1929), and then, for no discernible reason, the story backflips 19 years to begin the previous decade (Chapter 2 begins in 1910)." Huh.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Scott Martin

    (Audiobook) A good read, but one that could have been better. Admittedly, I didn't know a lot about the man, so this book does a good job of offering good insight into the man. Like many famous folks, there was good and bad about the man. Hard-working, and did much to advance human development. Interesting that Edison felt that the phonograph was his most important invention, rather than the lightbulb, but both continue to define humanity. His family life was difficult, especially when his sons (Audiobook) A good read, but one that could have been better. Admittedly, I didn't know a lot about the man, so this book does a good job of offering good insight into the man. Like many famous folks, there was good and bad about the man. Hard-working, and did much to advance human development. Interesting that Edison felt that the phonograph was his most important invention, rather than the lightbulb, but both continue to define humanity. His family life was difficult, especially when his sons struggled to find their way in the shadow of their famous father. Yet, I had an issue with the organization of the work. The author decided to go with a reverse life perspective, starting with the ending of Edison's life and working backwards to his origins. That in and of itself is not always bad, but it did make the narrative disjointed, and it might work better for someone who knew more about Edison than I did. However, for those who are reading to really learn about the man, it can make it hard to follow for the facts. The work is generally positive in its descriptions of the man, and while it alludes some to his struggles with former collaborators/employees, Morris doesn't really discuss those interactions, when they offer a lot of insight into the man. Worth a read, but maybe not the best read/organized work about Edison. The reader does a decent job with the material, but doesn't add or detract from the work.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

    "Edison” is a very comprehensive study on the man we know as Thomas A. Edison. Edmund Morris tackled a five million page archive of original documents that are housed under bomb proof concrete in Edison’s laboratory. Morris also had access to family papers still held in trust today. He studied Edison for seven years!  I’m not sure how long it took him to write the book but it is 634 pages plus a bibliography, notes and credits. When you finish this book, you will know an Edison that b "Edison” is a very comprehensive study on the man we know as Thomas A. Edison. Edmund Morris tackled a five million page archive of original documents that are housed under bomb proof concrete in Edison’s laboratory. Morris also had access to family papers still held in trust today. He studied Edison for seven years!  I’m not sure how long it took him to write the book but it is 634 pages plus a bibliography, notes and credits. When you finish this book, you will know an Edison that business associates knew and for the first time the Edison that his family knew.  Edison is most known for the electric light but, he has 1,093 inventions patented plus others that he did not patent. One was the x-ray fluoroscope that benefited medicine. If you love biographies, you will want to pick up a copy of this book. I am sure you will find everything you ever wanted to know about Edison. Edmund Morris did a fabulous job with his new offering.  I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I am constantly amazed by the depth and breadth of Edmund Morris biographies, and I am sad to think that Edison is the last I will read. Mr. Morris spent years researching and writing this book, and his dedication is certainly reflected in the amount of detail presented, both of Thomas A Edison the man and the inventor. The timeline of this biography is somewhat confusing, it is not as linear as I am used to seeing. Mr. Morris paints a vivid picture of Edison's family life, most of which I was u I am constantly amazed by the depth and breadth of Edmund Morris biographies, and I am sad to think that Edison is the last I will read. Mr. Morris spent years researching and writing this book, and his dedication is certainly reflected in the amount of detail presented, both of Thomas A Edison the man and the inventor. The timeline of this biography is somewhat confusing, it is not as linear as I am used to seeing. Mr. Morris paints a vivid picture of Edison's family life, most of which I was unaware. It definitely humanized Edison. Thomas Edison was a man of high standards, which he extended to his family, co-workers and employees. He is responsible for more than 1,000 inventions, most of which are presented in very technical detail. Edison failed often, especially in business (he started around 250). Edmund Morris had unprecedented access to Edison's personal papers, extensive library, and to his family. 4.5 I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Griffin

    Edmund Morris was a genius at biographical writing, so it is not hard to see why some fail to recognize it. The years of research and careful sorting, rethinking and writing this book would be foreign to most readers, yet all we have to do is look at the endnotes to get an idea of the work it took. There is no other author who could have completed this task in this manner. Morris's writing style may be described as art, yet he tactfully presents events and people in his unique historic prose. He Edmund Morris was a genius at biographical writing, so it is not hard to see why some fail to recognize it. The years of research and careful sorting, rethinking and writing this book would be foreign to most readers, yet all we have to do is look at the endnotes to get an idea of the work it took. There is no other author who could have completed this task in this manner. Morris's writing style may be described as art, yet he tactfully presents events and people in his unique historic prose. He does not judge. The reverse chronology of Thomas Edison's long life makes it all the more interesting. The things for which we remember the American one-of-a-kind inventor are right there at the beginning, thus magnified in the memory. It is disappointing that EDISON did not make the best seller list.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chris Kovacs

    This book is unusual in that the beginning of the biography starts with Edison's death and then proceeds backwards through the decades of life. For a subject such as Edison where "progress" is the essence of the story this makes it almost impossible to understand. People and inventions pop up and then go away with no clear sense of the magnificent importance of what is being discussed. Relationship with Tesla and controversy with Westinghouse is barely mentioned and when it is, it is difficult t This book is unusual in that the beginning of the biography starts with Edison's death and then proceeds backwards through the decades of life. For a subject such as Edison where "progress" is the essence of the story this makes it almost impossible to understand. People and inventions pop up and then go away with no clear sense of the magnificent importance of what is being discussed. Relationship with Tesla and controversy with Westinghouse is barely mentioned and when it is, it is difficult to place into contest. Extremely difficult to follow, but writing is good. If you are to read this, I would suggest starting with the last chapter and read backwards from there.

  20. 4 out of 5

    David Anthony Sam

    A comprehensive biography of Thomas Edison, Morris' book is rich in technical history and details while offering little new in understanding the man himself. Perhaps that is as it should be. Edison seems opaque in many ways, perhaps because he was increasingly closed in by his deafness. And he seemed less willing to share himself as a person, even with those he loved, than he was to share the gifts of his mind and invention with the world. For an unfathomable reason, Morris chose to h A comprehensive biography of Thomas Edison, Morris' book is rich in technical history and details while offering little new in understanding the man himself. Perhaps that is as it should be. Edison seems opaque in many ways, perhaps because he was increasingly closed in by his deafness. And he seemed less willing to share himself as a person, even with those he loved, than he was to share the gifts of his mind and invention with the world. For an unfathomable reason, Morris chose to have this biography go backwards. I cannot determine a scholarly, literary or entertainment value in doing so and recmmend simply reading the book backwards.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for allowing me to read this ARC of Edison, by Edmund Morris. Morris is a master biographer, telling us about the life and genius of Edison, and making it interesting. We learn about Edison’s upbringing, his family, his successes, and his failures. We see a side of him as a ruthless boss, who keeps his employees wondering if they had a job or not. One of my favorite comments from Edison about his near deafness is the fact that you don’t have to hear all th Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for allowing me to read this ARC of Edison, by Edmund Morris. Morris is a master biographer, telling us about the life and genius of Edison, and making it interesting. We learn about Edison’s upbringing, his family, his successes, and his failures. We see a side of him as a ruthless boss, who keeps his employees wondering if they had a job or not. One of my favorite comments from Edison about his near deafness is the fact that you don’t have to hear all the nonsense around you. This book is fascinating from beginning to end. The reader will enjoy learning about his inventions, patents, and achievements.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Wally

    A scholarly biography on Edison. As a lay reader, I found the detail of his inventions, failures, etc. Interesting but more than I could really appreciate. It was, however, very interested to learn how he work (feverishly), how he related to his family, employees and the public. Henry Ford's almost hero worship of him was amazing. I've been toMenlo Park at Ford's Greenfield Village Dearborn but didn't know that transporting Menlo Park was truly a labor mom love. It was sad to see how he and his A scholarly biography on Edison. As a lay reader, I found the detail of his inventions, failures, etc. Interesting but more than I could really appreciate. It was, however, very interested to learn how he work (feverishly), how he related to his family, employees and the public. Henry Ford's almost hero worship of him was amazing. I've been toMenlo Park at Ford's Greenfield Village Dearborn but didn't know that transporting Menlo Park was truly a labor mom love. It was sad to see how he and his second wife ignored and/or mistreated the children of his first wife.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jeff J.

    With this, his final biography, The reputation of Morris as an eccentric writer is emboldened. Each chapter covers roughly a decade of the inventor’s life. Oddly, Morris chose to present these chapters in reverse chronological order. I think I understand - Edison’s greatest accomplishments were at the start of his career, by organizing the book this way the story isn’t peaking too early. I’m not convinced that sacrificing clarity for creativity was a wise decision. Strange to say it, but the rea With this, his final biography, The reputation of Morris as an eccentric writer is emboldened. Each chapter covers roughly a decade of the inventor’s life. Oddly, Morris chose to present these chapters in reverse chronological order. I think I understand - Edison’s greatest accomplishments were at the start of his career, by organizing the book this way the story isn’t peaking too early. I’m not convinced that sacrificing clarity for creativity was a wise decision. Strange to say it, but the reader may want to consider reading the chapters in reverse order.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey M

    *I won this through a goodreads giveaway complimemts of the publisher* Author Edmund Morris gives us an in depth view not just of Edison's accomplishments and failures as a businessman and innovator, but also into his personal/family life as well. A great addition to any bookshelf, but especially to those who think there couldnt possibly be a book that covers more on the man than they already own.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    An excellent in-depth look at the life of Thomas Edison. I like the way the book is divided into "sections" on different areas of his inventive life. You really get a feel for the up and downs in his life as well as his genius at inventing. One can feel the obsession he had with inventing and improving things. The book as a lot of technical terms that deal with his inventing which I did not mind but might be too much for some readers. Great book! I won this book in a GoodReads Giveaway.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mike Medeiros

    The only problem with this otherwise excellently exhaustive ladt work of Edmund Morris is his gimmick of arrang8ng the book chronologically backwards. He starts with his death and works progressively in reverse to his boyhood. If you can manage to not letcthat complicate enjoyment it is otherwise very very detailed and well done.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    Great read about one of the best known geniuses in history. The format of the book is not simply a timeline of Edison’s life, but rather different areas of interest for the genius. This formatting helps with the focus in each area and is easy to follow. I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Camille Pum

    I won this book in the giveaway! I was very excited to get a copy of this book! I've always wanted to learn more about Edison and I was not disappointed. This biography not only encases Edison's many accomplishments but also focuses on the unique characteristics and thoughts of the man himself. I am a huge fan of Edmund Morris and will look for more reading material from them!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Du

    Really intriguing read. Edison is an interesting person and I think the quirk of having the story told backwards fits him, and his story. Really enjoyed the complexity it added to the story. The context of Edison life and his interactions with contemporaries was enjoyable and the flow of the text was great.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This is a well-researched, well-documented biography of Thomas Edison. For some asinine reason, Edmund Morris decided to write it in reverse chronological order. It completely ruined an enormous amount of work.

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